Restaurants / Openings

New Chocolate Shop and Hidden Bar to Make Chocolate Drinks More Than a Novelty — CASE Chocolates Leans On Swiss Techniques in EaDo

A Houston Tech Entrepreneur Dips Into Something New

BY // 02.28.24
photography Dylan McEwan

Houstonian Casey McNeil, an entrepreneur in the tech space, is leaning on his creative muscles to create a new brand of liquor-filled artisan-style chocolates called CASE Chocolates. Soon to be based in a 900-square-foot storefront in EaDo at 3401 Harrisburg Boulevard, CASE Chocolates will adjoin a novel related chocolate-centered speakeasy, with both set to open this spring.

CASE Chocolates is reviving the lost art of starch casting, a Swiss technique perfected by Rudolph Sprungli, heir to the Swiss chocolate empire and head of the world-renowned Lindt & Sprüngli business for more than two decades.

“Chocolates and spirits are a perfect pairing, but the only options have been sort of novelties,” McNeil says. “We’re changing that by creating unique experiences and flavors that focus on high-quality ingredients. Cacao is more nuanced than wine, and we want to emphasize the unique flavors that different origins offer.

“The journey gets more exciting when people see how those flavors pair with different spirits and cocktails.”

McNeil, a University of Houston Bauer College of Business grad, found success early in his career within the energy realm when he co-founded REEcycle, a tech startup that recycles rare earth elements from electronic waste, as well as the B2B mobile device recycler Vendera. That caught the eyes of the editors at Forbes magazine, prompting McNeil’s inclusion  in the Forbes 30 under 30 (energy list) in 2015.

CASE Chocolates founder Casey McNeil and consultant Janan Araujo-Siam (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
CASE Chocolates founder Casey McNeil and Head of Experience Janan Araujo-Siam are traversing the globe seeking out cacao farmers who will directly supply him with the raw beans in which to conch and create his own couverture. (Photo by Dylan McEwan and Ben Rosenblum).

Unlike other chocolate candy producers that procure couverture chocolate from wholesale chocolatiers like Valrhona and Callebaut, McNeil and Head of Experience Janan Araujo-Siam are traversing the globe seeking out cacao farmers who will directly supply CASE Chocolates with the raw beans in which to conch and create couverture.

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On CASE Chocolates’ website now, you’ll find liquor-filled confections encased in a custom-made specialty box shaped like a cacao pod. These include a selection of six chocolates filled with rare whiskeys from the Buffalo Trace Antique collection like Eagle Rare 17, William Larue Weller, George T Stagg, Thomas H Handy, Sazerac 18 and as a bonus, Old Rip Van Winkle ($100). CASE’s Carajillo box (carajillo, a coffee drink in which liquor is added) includes heart-shaped bites infused with spirits such as the orange-scented Licor 43 ($25).

CASE Speakeasy Rendering_Ben Rosenblum (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
When CASE Chocolates opens this spring, next door they will also operate a speakeasy which will feature an intimate chocolate and cocktail pairing experience. The tasting will showcase a global variety of chocolates paired as flights with various spirits and cocktails. (Photo by Dylan McEwan and Ben Rosenblum)

CASE Chocolates’ upcoming brick-and-mortar store will feature a small retail space with a display case of chocolate offerings. Customers will be able to sample and purchase the chocolates inside the storefront, opt for shopping via the street-level window service or order online.

Meanwhile, CASE’s clever speakeasy will feature an intimate chocolate and cocktail pairing experience. The tasting will showcase a global variety of chocolates paired as flights with various spirits and cocktails. Non-alcoholic options also will be available. Each tasting will last approximately 45 minutes with reservations required.

You can access the speakeasy via the new CASE Chocolates storefront. You’ll be led to a hidden entrance, only accessible using instructions sent in reservation bookings. Once the passage opens, the 22 seat chocolate speakeasy will be revealed.

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